People have been asking me to show off the sweet new tech for Mono-Blue Devotion. I have bad news for you. The sweet new tech, I believe, is to just play all the old cards. I know people have written about how Hypnotic Siren might be sweet, since there's not that much upside to Judge's Familiar, and stealing a guy can be a big deal. I'm not interested. Judge's Familiar is sweet and people need to learn some respect. Often, you don't know how good it is because you can't see what your opponent isn't playing because of it. The deck wins by getting ahead early, and Judge's Familiar helps a lot more with that than Hypnotic Siren.
Of course, the exact list does change a little to fit the metagame. Right now, I expect a lot of decks that are black and/or green. Jace is relatively bad because there's very little aggro, and I don't think you need to focus on the mirror. I basically just want to tempo out big creatures and punish people for being clunky (which is part of why I don't want another color).
- 4 Cloudfin Raptor
- 4 Frostburn Weird
- 4 Judge's Familiar
- 4 Master of Waves
- 4 Nightveil Specter
- 4 Tidebinder Mage
- 4 Thassa, God of the Sea
So, let's see how it does. Worst case, if I lose, it might offer some insight as to what else needs to change, or why Mono-Blue Devotion isn't good anymore.
Game 1 against Esper is hard. You usually lose. There's often a point where you have to decide if you can realistically win by playing around Supreme Verdict. The answer is usually no. Then you just commit and hope you can steal a win if they don't have it. Some games are exceptional in that things are going so well you can actually play around it, but this definitely wasn't one. I basically knew I'd lost when he played the second untapped white land.
Game 2 was weird and definitely the kind of game for me to keep in mind when I start to think this deck is easy to play. Figuring out whether to attack him, his Jace, or whether to play more threats, and then the decision to only attack with one Mutavault when he was at three were all extremely close, difficult decisions. My way worked out, but I have no idea which decisions I made were actually right.
Game 3 was the exact kind of game I like to play post sideboard: a long game where I have Thassa going that's about judicious use of mana and counterspells. I definitely punted by playing the Bident of Thassa. There really wasn't any reason to. Luckily for me, my opponent messed up every part of the Deicide, and then conceded when I countered his Detention Sphere rather than just playing Pithing Needle on Thassa to stay alive. At that point, I'd be a favorite, but could still easily lose.
I thought game 1 started off well, but my opponent had enough removal that I couldn't keep up with two unanswered Eidolon of Blossoms. The second game was disturbingly close considering that I had a relatively optimal draw on the play. In the third game, he was a little choked on mana, but I basically managed to do what I set out to do, which is establish a little pressure and then punish him for playing a deck full of 3-5 mana sorcery speed plays against counterspells.
The first game went a lot longer than I expected it to, and at times, I thought I'd pull it out, but it wasn't to be. In the second game, my opponent made a small mistake by not shocking my Judge's Familiar on his turn to play around Rapid Hybridization. Obviously, these kinds of mistakes happen all the time, so I'm not going to be in the habit of mentioning them, but there you go. I thought I was going to win game 2 based on my start, but it just didn't happen.
My takeaway here is that this red deck, exactly this kind--high on burn, high on white removal, and with Young Pyromancer, is particularly difficult for Mono-Blue Devotion. Red decks are often fairly close, with blue as a slight favorite, but I think I'm substantially behind here. For what it's worth, I'd be even further behind if he also had Satyr Firedancer.
Perfect curve on the play took game 1 easily enough that I couldn't be sure what he was playing. It turned out to be very different than I expected, and he came out fast and put me way behind, but I was able to tenuously stabilize and pull out a really close game.
Overall, I think, as usual, I may have been too quick to dismiss Mono-Blue Devotion. My best guess as to why it hasn't shown up more is that people want to try new things and didn't see it succeed, so they just moved on. Also, I think some portion of people who did play it tried to get fancy and include a splash or some new cards which weakened the deck. It possibly happened in subtle enough ways that they didn't realize that was the problem. They may have assumed the new build was best, but not good enough, and put it aside. There's subtle tuning to do based on expected opposition, but I wouldn't touch any of the creatures.
Deicide is a beating, and the deck is worse now than it was, but given how much I liked it before, there's still room for it to become my deck of choice again.